The New Movie Industry

On Sunday, the band The Cobra Punchers posted a pretty compelling blog post entitled "The New Music Industry". This article covers some very interesting points about what is wrong with the music biz, as well as bands that perpetuate a broken system by jumping on (or spending all their time trying to get on) a sinking ship. The Punchers speculate that the problem won't go away until artists basic attitudes change, most notably their feelings on giving their music away online.

The article continues with this bold statement: do not sign to a large record label. Apparently most bands don't read the fine print of their contracts and end up getting screwed by the very entity that was supposed to give them fame and fortune.

Does this sound familiar? Just yesterday I linked to an article in Variety that mentioned filmmakers getting "offers" from DVD distributors that offer nothing. Producers looking for a return on their investment only give their work away to conniving scum who are the only ones making the money. The medium may be different, but it's the same ol' song. The major disadvantage to avoiding a distributor is that it cuts you out of Netflix, which requires one.

The Cobra Punchers offer some solid advice for musicians that all us filmmakers could learn from. This is even more incentive for indie distribution, and a real eye-opener for those unaware of the predatory nature of those who want to cash in on your blood and sweat. Don't let them do it under the pretense of easy money. There's no such thing.

So how do we make money? Recapping some of my previous posts, interwoven with some recent ideas, here it is in a nutshell:

1. Make a quality movie for as little as possible (I'm guessing a max of $5,000 should do it, but less is more).
2. Create a website promoting your film, and offer your DVD for sale there.
3. Put the entire movie on Google Video (which is the lowest quality version) for anyone to see, including an ad at the beginning for details on where the viewer can buy the DVD. The incentive to buy the disc is much better audio/video and lots of bonus stuff.
4. Send out free screeners to busy movie websites and blogs, and have them mention the free version on Google.
5. Put a download to rent/own version on Amazon Unbox's CustomFlix, which splits the profits 50/50 with the filmmaker. The download to own should be priced less than the DVD, which offers more content and quality.

CustomFlix also offers a DVD duplicating service, but I say don't use it. They want way too much money to provide a service you could get much cheaper locally. You'll have to ship copies yourself, but it's more money in your pocket where it belongs.

Don't forget to promote the hell out of your project. Get as many eyeballs as you can to that free version (and encourage others to link to it), and the ad should inform them of everything else they can get from you. I really believe this method could add up to a yearly salary and replace your "normal" job. Now I just need a really good script to start on Step 1...